Layout vs. Content

Ok, I'm going to get this out of the way first thing. A classic example of Layout and Content working together in perfect harmony: Google.

Now that the obligatory ring-kissing is finished, let's look at an example of a page that needs some work:

Suffering from self-diagnosed attention deficit disorder, the first thing that enters my head when I see this page is . . . gone within half a second replaced by another thing - and another thing - and another . . . the point is, there is so much crammed into this first page that I can't focus on what I came to do, reserve a hotel room. And the fact that everything is gray and nothing really stands out on its own doesn't help at all.

And don't get me started on the grammatical ambiguity of the phrase "Save up to 70% off."

Now let's talk about site consistency. Click on any of their buttons and it takes you to a page with a completely different layout. Now, I may not be an artistic genius, but I know when a design is inconsistent. I'm all for the gray/white widget thing they have going on on the front page (which is actually just the "Hotels" page), but if you're going to do that, stick with it or else make it a page separate from the "Hotels" button. Make it the homepage and make the Hotels page something different - something that looks like the other pages.

What about the content? Well, they seem to have some pretty good deals. Looks like you can book a vacation just about anywhere for a competitive rate. They have some good discounts, some cruise info, some rebates. Good stuff. I haven't seen rebates on Priceline or Travelocity (of course, who could resist William Shatner or a talking lawn gnome?) But the customer doesn't see those things first. Even if they're on the front page, the customer sees a cluttered page, thinks "Ok, why did I come here?" and promptly seeks out the nearest starship captain or grass ornament.

Nice try, Hotel I like your deals, but I can't stand your site.